January was a tough month for truck manufacturers as Class 8 truck orders were down 35% compared to the previous month, according to a preliminary report from ACT Research.
Class 8 truck orders are expected to total 18,200 units in January, which would be significantly less than December and as much as 48% down compared to January 2015. A weak manufacturing sector has negatively affected freight capacity utilization.
“Economic reports over the course of January were broadly disappointing, with industrial-related data points particularly soft,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and senior analyst. “As a result of the soft supply-demand environment, the lackluster Class 8 order trend that started in late 2015 continued into 2016.”
The comparison to 2015 is particularly apt as last year’s numbers approached an all-time record and the lull at the start of this year was widely expected by industry analysts.
“This result was relatively in line with our expectations given the weak macro backdrop, the oversold conditions following a very strong 2015, and the direction of orders in recent months,” said Michael J. Baudendistel, vice president of Stifel’s transportation and logistics research group.
Baudendistel’s group estimates Class 8 production will hit 250,000 units in 2016, down 24% from last year.
January Class 5-7 truck orders are projected to fair better by gaining 3% year-over-year at 18,200 units. The number is 19% down from December but January is usually a weak month for medium-duty orders. Medium-duty production is expected to be flat or down slightly in 2016, according to Stifel.
“On a seasonally adjusted basis, orders fell roughly 10% sequentially,” said Baudendistel. “Again, medium-duty demand was relatively stable and in line with expectations.”